Capital's economy chief refutes 'weaponised' claims Marketing Edinburgh jobs have been 'identified for redundancy'
Council leaders have confirmed a policy move from encouraging to managing tourism amid accusations Marketing Edinburgh staff roles have been identified for redundancy - a claim refuted by economy bosses.
The Capital’s economy chief has refuted “weaponised” claims that Marketing Edinburgh staff jobs have been earmarked for redundancy – amid accusations that the city council is no longer “a proud partner of business”.
A row erupted earlier this month when the entire board of Marketing Edinburgh, which promotes tourism in the city, resigned after Edinburgh City Council’s housing, homelessness and fair work committee rejected a funding plea for the next financial year amid budget pressures. Last year, the council agreed to cut £300,000 from Marketing Edinburgh’s budget – a compromise from the original proposed saving on the understanding the organisation would become self-sustainable in the future.
The row led to Lord Provost Frank Ross, who quit as a director with the rest of the Marketing Edinburgh board, resigning from three further board positions due to fears over the direction of the council’s economy strategy. But the council insists the focus has been shifted to sustainable economy and managing tourism but is “not about stifling growth”.
The council considered a motion by Conservative economy spokesperson, Cllr John McLellan which included regretting that “the actions of this council put Marketing Edinburgh employees at risk of redundancy”. The company has 16 members of staff.
Cllr McLellan told councillors that he was aware that “roles have already been identified for redundancy”.
He added that Edinburgh is now “one of the few major cities without a tourism and destination bureau” and hinted that the SNP-Labour administration could next be targeting the EICC by bringing it in-house.
Tory group leader Iain Whyte added: “This will ensure the council has much less influence over the tourism sector in this city and much less impact in setting an agenda or strategy for the future.
“The days the council can say it’s a proud partner of business in this city are long gone.”
But the council’s housing, homelessness and fair work convener, Cllr Kate Campbell said she was “quite frankly appalled” by the remarks relating to people’s jobs and said discussions will take place with staff about their plans to press ahead with Marketing Edinburgh’s future.
She added: “I don’t know where he got that information. It’s incorrect to my knowledge and I will be following that up and investigating it. I don’t think it’s appropriate to make those comments in this chamber.”
Cllr Campbell added that the budget cuts are “very difficult decisions” resulting from “10 years of austerity from Westminster” but said she “stands by that decision”.
She added: “We have to be honest that there are also problems associated with tourism that have to be managed.”
Councillors rejected Cllr McLellan’s motion but approved a Green amendment which points out that “the challenge of the visitor economy now and in the future is not about how to promote unfettered growth but how to continue to welcome visitors to the city in a sustainable way”.
Green Cllr Claire Miller has been appointed to the new Marketing Edinburgh board along with Cllr Campbell and Cllr Mandy Watt after Conservatives refused to take up a position on a board that was attempting to “wind up” the company.
Cllr Miller said: “I do think it’s regrettable we have come to this stage.
“Marketing Edinburgh didn’t actually propose a way forward that was achievable in the budget that was set. People we are representing cannot expect us to reverse a budget decision when utterly essentially services are under extreme pressure.”